Know your contraceptives: IUD myths debunked

Family planning methods have several misconceptions surrounding them. One of the often misunderstood methods is the IUD and Dr Franklin Wasswa sheds some light on them.

Does the Copper-T coil cause cancer?

Some believe that with an IUD, you can suffer from cervical cancer but this is not true since the cause of that cancer is a virus. However, this virus is not in the device but is spread through sexual intercourse. Therefore, if you suffer from cervical cancer while using the IUD, then it means you must have been exposed to the virus prior to having it inserted.

Additionally, infections related to IUD insertion may occur because the instruments or IUD carry with them organisms from the lower genital tract. Risk of infection can be further reduced by following routine infection-prevention procedures including the “no-touch” insertion technique (not letting the loaded IUD or uterine sounds touch any unsterile surfaces such as hands, speculum, vaginal wall, or table top).

The IUD never travels to the heart, brain, or any other part of the body outside the abdomen but stays within the uterus.

Proper insertion technique can help prevent many problems, such as infection, expulsion, and perforation.

Can you conceive while using it?

The essence of inserting the coil is to avoid conception. It is rare that one will conceive while using it and one of the instances is when you do not follow the routine check-ups. These are supposed to be four within a year of insertion. At that point, any chances of conception with the coil are nullified.

According to, copper-bearing IUDs have less than one pregnancy per 100 women using an IUD over the first year (6 to 8 per 1,000 women). This means the IUD will prevent pregnancy for 992 to 994 of 1,000 women using IUDs will not become pregnant. A small risk of pregnancy remains beyond the first year of use and continues as long as the woman is using the IUD. Over 10 years of IUD use, about 2 percent of women will become pregnant.

Additionally, even the belief that IUDs prevent pregnancy by causing abortions is not true because the device works as a spermicide, preventing pregnancy. Therefore, an abortion cannot happen either, in a quest to help in birth control.

Can your partner feel the IUD strings during sexual intercourse?

These threads are very soft and consistent with human hair. Once inside the body, owing to the temperatures, they get softer and more lubricated. Therefore, during sexual intercourse, your partner will not be able to feel the strings. Additionally, they are normally cut short so you are not to feel them even outside intimacy unless something has gone wrong.